Big Ten Geeks: In the Zone

Wisconsin is one win away from Bo Ryan’s first-ever Final Four after destroying Baylor last night. The Badgers scored 1.11 points per possession, and frankly, it should have been higher. Baylor largely stuck to its zone all night long, but what a strange zone it was. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a zone where four players are on one side of the court—the side without the basketball:

Koenig actually missed that wide-open 3, so it could have been worse. On the season, Wisconsin is generally a team that prefers jumpers over shots at the rim. But not last night:

Roughly half of Wisconsin’s shots last night were layups. Now, it would be one thing if Ryan installed Havoc™ for one game and Wisconsin got 17 steals that led to fast break opportunities. But that obviously did not happen—the Badgers recorded just one steal last night, and Baylor only had 6 turnovers overall. Oh, and that steal did not result in a transition field goal attempt. It was a halfcourt offensive clinic, as Tim Miles noted:

Frank Kaminsky led the way with 19 points (11 shots) and an impressive 6 blocks to go with it. I probably should talk about the defense a bit more than I have, as Baylor managed just 0.84 points per possession. The Bears shot poorly on 2s (38 percent), worse on 3s (13 percent), and were generally kept off the glass (rebounding 26 percent of the available misses), which was a bit of a surprise given how strong Baylor’s offensive rebounding has been this season.

Wisconsin now marches on to face Arizona, which figures to be a very different opponent. Don’t expect many open looks from close range, as the Wildcats feature perhaps the best two-point defense in the country. Even worse, Sean Miller’s team closes out hard on shooters such that traffic is funneled into the inhospitable paint. In short, Bo’s likely going to have to come up with one heck of a game plan in order to earn his first trip to basketball’s final weekend.

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